Avocados are a power-packed super food! Not only is this fruit super high in monounsaturated fat, but also chock full of vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and antioxidants.
The healthy fats and other nutrition you get from avocados help stabilize blood sugar and insulin. The healthy fat content in avocados makes you feel full longer and takes away junk food cravings. And that equals a leaner, healthier body. Avocados contain plenty of oleic acid, the monounsaturated fat in olive oil, that helps lower cholesterol.
Avocados are also a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and electrolytes. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke.
One cup of avocado has about a quarter of your required daily amount of folate, or folic acid, a B vitamin that plays an essential role in making new cells by helping to produce healthy DNA and RNA. One study showed that individuals who consume folate-rich diets have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke than those who do not consume as much of this vital nutrient.
Avocados are also a very concentrated dietary source of the carotenoid, lutein which is good for eye health. It also contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids, zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, plus significant quantities of vitamin E, all significant cancer-fighting ingredients. My favorite lunch or snack is an avocado sliced in half with Sriracha sauce and some canned albacore tuna.
If you like your morning coffee, there’s good news for those who are fighting or trying to avoid diabetes. Drinking four cups of coffee every day can decrease the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by more than half, according to a new study from University of California, Los Angeles.
Caffeinated coffee raises the level of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in the blood, which reduces the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Study participants were found to have a 56% less chance of developing diabetes when drinking 4 cups of caffeinated coffee a day.
And, while too much caffeine can have negative effects like raising blood pressure, and causing anxiety, sleeplessness and stomach issues, just be sure to stop early in the day, so the caffeine in your system will be mostly gone by bedtime.
And if the caffeine bothers you, decaf coffee helps some too. A 2006 study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine of 28,812 women found that those who drank six cups of decaffeinated coffee a day had a 22 % lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes than those who don’t drink any coffee.
And more good news about coffee drinking—a 2011 study in the Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research revealed that coffee consumption helped to prevent disease connected with free radicals. The protection from your cup o’ joe can actually happen within just five days of regular consumption too. Just avoid drinking sweetened coffee with non-dairy creamers! Learn to enjoy your coffee black or with a touch of grassfed butter or coconut oil added.
One caveat about coffee though: the huge coffee industry is very environmentally unsustainable, uses tons of pesticides, and is worse for the environment than ever before, so always buy from organic and sustainable sources. You can also read Mike’s article here with 3 tricks to make your coffee super healthy
Wild Caught Fish, Grass-Fed Meat and Free-Range Poultry, Eggs and (Raw, Unpasteurized) Cheeses
What an animal eats before you eat it, is of extreme importance to you. Commercially raised meats, including fish, poultry and livestock are fed a diet of corn and corn byproducts, soy and soy hulls, discarded brewery grain, etc.
A similar diet is fed to farmed fish, and free-range poultry. Animals were not meant to eat grains and the grains actually make the animals sickly, creating a need for antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Antibiotics are also routinely given to cattle, fish and poultry in an effort to fatten them up and make them grow faster. All of this remains in the meat you eat.
The old adage, “you are what you eat” is the same for animals. Animals fed a junk-food diet, and raised in dirty, overcrowded conditions do not create the nutritionally sound protein or healthy fats that naturally raised animals do. And most of the toxins that remain from the pesticides and other additives given to them are stored in their fat and livers, so not only do you not get healthy fats eating CAFO (commercially raised meat), you get a mouthful of toxic chemicals.
Naturally raised, antibiotic and hormone free cattle, poultry and fish contain the highest amounts of nutrients possible, because these animals are eating their natural diet. Their fat contains more of the healthy omega 3 fats and other essentially fatty acids as well.
And one more thing—animals and fish raised in large commercial feeding operations are mistreated, live a miserable life and are sick and crowded. It takes a massive amount of water to raise them and their filthy, toxic excrement pollutes the oceans, seas and the land—and your body!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Consuming vinegar before meals and at bedtime has been shown to lower post-meal glucose by 34%, according to an Arizona State University study. The subjects took 20 grams of apple cider vinegar with 40 grams of water and (don’t use this—use stevia instead) saccharin.
It is thought that the vinegar slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood or slows the breakdown of starches eaten into sugars. The study also shows that vinegar increases insulin sensitivity, perhaps acting similarly to metformin, a common diabetes drug.
And other studies have shown that vinegar at bedtime reduces fasting blood glucose in the morning as well. Postprandial glucose measurements (post meal) actually make up the majority of the HbA1c level in the blood—one of the most important measurements of long-term blood sugar stability.
Pretty amazing for something you can pick up at your grocery store for a just a couple dollars! Apple cider vinegar is good for everyone, so get in the habit of taking a little bit of it every day. I like it on salads with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, too!
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds and walnuts sit at the top of the list for nutrition, but many other varieties of nuts and seeds are healthy, too, including pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, pecans, cashews, macadamias, and brazil nuts–and even though they are actually a legume and not a nut–peanuts.
- Nuts are the perfect snack. Protein and fat in nuts helps you feel satisfied and stop cravings, and since nuts have no sugars, they keep your blood sugar stable. All varieties of nuts, except cashews, are extremely low on the glycemic index, so they are a great snack for those of you trying to lower blood sugar.
- Besides their lean body benefits, nuts are a highly nutritious food to include in your diet.
- Nuts are high in healthy fats, which help satisfy your cravings and keep you from over-indulging in sweet or starchy.
- Nuts are chock-full of hard-to-get minerals, such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. Selenium is a potent cancer-fighting mineral, and aids the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism, and fat burning in the body.
- Potassium is an important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission, heart function and blood pressure. Magnesium is nature’s calming agent, and is excellent for heart health and blood sugar. Nuts are also a good source of fiber and protein, which of course, you know helps to control blood sugar and can aid in weight loss.
Choose raw nuts or raw nut butters instead of roasted nuts if you can; it helps to maintain the quality and nutritional content of the healthy fats that you will eat.
We now know that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, is very beneficial to our overall health. Today, most olive oil comes from Mediterranean areas in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Turkey. Olive oil varieties are a bit like wine, where different growing conditions, soil and weather dictate the taste, color and amount of polyphenols or antioxidants in the oil. Extra virgin olive oil is made from the crushing and the first cold pressing of olives. Extra virgin olive oil has the heartiest, fruitiest flavor and most health benefits.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that researchers are discovering has numerous significant health benefits. If you compare the Mediterranean diet, where olive oil is the main fat used, to the standard diet of the United States, where other fats such as animal fats, hydrogenated fats and highly processed vegetable oils like corn oil and soybean oil dominate, you will see some huge differences!
People who use olive oil regularly, especially in place of other fats, have much lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma.
A Spanish study done a few years ago and published in the scientific journal, Diabetes Care, showed a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet. Previous studies have shown that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil may prevent Type 2 Diabetes by improving blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and blood lipid levels. Olive oil also helps to lower triglyceride levels, which is directly related to high blood sugar, and a key component to the development of heart disease.
Diets using ample amounts of olive oil improved adiponectin levels, thus reducing inflammation and heart attack risks. Adiponectin, a hormone produced in the body, and secreted by fat cells, regulates sugar and fat metabolism, improves insulin sensitivity, and has anti-inflammatory effects on the cells lining the blood vessel walls. Low blood levels of adiponectin are a marker for metabolic syndrome and pre-diabetes, and are also associated with increased heart attack risk.
Three other recent studies suggest that such heart-healthy effects from olive oil are due not only to its high content of monounsaturated fats, but also to its hefty concentration of antioxidants, including chlorophyll, carotenoids and the polyphenolic compounds tyrosol, hydrotyrosol and oleuropein—all of which not only have free radical scavenging abilities. By reducing both inflammation and free radical damage, olive oil protects the lining of our blood vessels, helping to maintain its ability to relax and dilate, and helping reduce high blood pressure.
Olive oil varies greatly in taste and appearance depending on where it comes from. One scientist observed that the higher quality olive oils produced a throat-stinging sensation when swallowed. A compound in olive oil (oleocanthal), which is a powerful anti-inflammatory, actually works as well as medications like ibuprofen. To check for this anti-inflammatory, taste a spoonful of olive oil, and see how strongly it stings the back of the throat. The greater the sting, the greater the oleocanthal content.
Grass Fed Butter
Healthy oils and fats are key to good health. Together they work as a team to supply your body with essential fatty acids for blood sugar stabilization, longevity, hormone balance, heart health, sharp vision, glowing moist skin and energy.
It is not cholesterol and saturated fats in our diets that contributes to heart attacks, but a combination of high blood sugar and insulin from too much sugary, starchy foods, and eating highly processed, inflammatory vegetable oils, including soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, safflower oil and canola oil.
Of course, natural fats in general are beneficial to the body. Fat is converted to fuel, which is burned as an energy source, as long as you are not eating a diet high in sugar or starch. Fat helps our bodies absorb nutrients; particularly calcium and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Most butter substitutes are junk that should never be consumed by humans, despite the “healthy” labels. Butter is low glycemic and stabilizes blood sugar, and it gives you important and necessary nutrition and it helps reduce appetite and cravings. The only source of healthy butter is from organic, grass fed cows. Mike also has an article here about the benefits on artery health of grass-fed dairy fat.
Coconut oil is the new superfood oil. In terms of how coconut oil helps blood sugar, studies have found that coconut oil can help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise the good HDL cholesterol—both of which help to prevent heart disease. And a study published in 2009 showed that mice fed coconut oil had less insulin resistance and less body fat than mice fed lard. The study is interesting because it helps explain human studies showing that people who incorporate medium chain ‘fatty acids’ from coconut lose body fat.
Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride, which means it is metabolized differently than most fats. Unlike long chain fatty acids from animal fats, MCT’s are small enough to enter mitochondria – the cells’ energy-burning powerhouses, where they are converted immediately to energy, and they also slow the absorption of other carbohydrates eaten at the same time. Coconut oil boosts energy and endurance, and enhances the athletic performance.
Coconut oil is is also easy to digest and helps the thyroid gland function well (critical to metabolism and weight loss).
Pure virgin coconut oil (make sure it is not hydrogenated) is actually one of the best options for cooking oil, due to its highly stable nature under heat. This makes it much less inflammatory to your body compared to other oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, or other “vegetable” oils. This article here describes more details about cooking oils and which are healthy vs. unhealthy
Beans (for some people, but not others)
Beans (including black, white, navy, lima, pinto, garbanzo, soy, and kidney beans) are a terrific combination of slow-burning carbohydrates, satisfying protein, and loads of fiber that helps you feel satisfied, stabilize blood-sugar levels, and keeps hunger in check. Beans are inexpensive, versatile, and filling.
Beans and other legumes have been proven to regulate blood glucose and insulin levels, with their high fiber and low glycemic index, according to a study on Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Toronto. The report was published online Oct. 22 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Beans and legumes not only improve blood sugar levels, but they also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol according to some studies. These improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar add up to better diabetes control and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers said. Beans provide a heart-healthy, nutritious and more affordable alternative to eating processed meats and dairy foods.
But a Word of Warning on Beans: Beans and other legumes do contain more lectins and other digestive-irritants than most other types of foods. With this in mind, for people with sensitive digestive systems, beans can many times just make digestive problems worse. But for people with completely healthy digestive systems, beans can be healthy, even if they do cause some flatulence.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables: Chard, Spinach, Baby Greens, Kale
Leafy greens deliver a bonanza of health benefits and massive nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Leafy greens are packed with magnesium and amino acids which lower blood sugar and control insulin. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for over 300 functions in the body, and leafy greens are one of the biggest sources of this vital nutrient. In addition to its blood sugar-controlling abilities, it assists in metabolism of carbohydrates, and reduces cravings for sugar.
Leafy vegetables are an ideal fat burning food, as they are typically very low in calories. They also ward off the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are low in fat, high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of super-powered phytochemicals.
Dark green leafy vegetables are, for a low calorie food, one of the most concentrated sources of nutrition of any food. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect all of our cells from damage and our eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts, among other benefits. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of healthy omega 3 fats. Carotenoids, which are the antioxidants in orange, red, yellow and green vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes Type 2 by up to 20% or so. Carotenoids are present in most all vegetables—so eating the brightest and deepest colored ones ensures you get a good dose of this powerful phytochemical!
The rock star nutrient dark green leafy vegetables is vitamin K. A cup of cooked greens provides about nine times the minimum recommended amount of vitamin K. This overlooked vitamin is responsible for preventing atherosclerosis by reducing calcium buildup in arteries, preventing inflammation, and regulating blood clotting.
Greens have very few carbohydrates–which makes them very low glycemic–and lots of fiber, which make them slower to digest. So, greens themselves have very little impact on blood sugar.
When you have a choice, a variety of greens is always best, as each has its own family of nutrients. Go for as many different colors and shades of green as you can!
A Word of Warning on Eating Too Much Leafy Greens: Again, similar to beans, some people with sensitive digestive systems can experience worsening of their digestion by eating too much leafy greens or too many total veggies. Mike explains more at this article: 4 reasons why you can eat too many veggies
Scientists have been studying the role inflammation plays in obesity and Diabetes and other diseases, and found that chronic inflammation actually leads to insulin resistance, raising the risk of weight gain and Type 2 Diabetes. Eating foods rich in vitamin C such as cruciferous vegetables helps to lower inflammation and keep it in check, thereby lowering the risk of diabetes.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are also rich in potassium, which regulates glucose metabolism. Potassium is necessary for beta cells in the pancreas to ‘sense’ elevated blood sugar levels, and respond by secreting insulin.
Cruciferous vegetables are also particularly good at counteracting xenoestrogens in our environment. Xenoestrogens are artificial, chemical estrogens (a female hormone) that come from toxic chemicals in our environment, plastics, cosmetics, and food additives. Xenoestrogens are powerful hormone disrupters and have been implicated in a variety of medical problems, and during the last 10 years many scientific studies have found hard evidence of adverse effects on human and animal health, including weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in natural chemicals called indoles and isothiocyanates, which protect against many cancers. And broccoli sprouts contain 10 times as much sulforaphane, a cancer-protective substance, than does mature broccoli.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions’ pungent odor and taste comes from their powerful sulphur-containing compounds. The primary ingredient is Allicin, known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties.
Allicin, along with other powerful compounds in both onions and garlic have a profound effect on your circulatory, digestive and immunological systems, which helps to lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, and raise the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) in your body.
Garlic and onions are especially effective to stimulate insulin and stabilize blood sugar. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that both garlic and onions effectively improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
Garlic has also long been acclaimed as helping to prevent heart disease and strokes—two serious health risks for diabetics. Onions also contain a hefty amount of the antioxidant, quercetin (especially red onions), which helps to reduce inflammation, fight allergies, heart disease, and cancer.
Garlic’s health benefits come from fresh garlic (not powdered or in a jar). The potent chemicals in garlic are released when garlic is crushed, minced or chopped and sits for a few minutes. Add raw garlic to your meals three times a day, or crush garlic, and swallow with a glass of water.
Garlic and onions’ amazing health benefits make it well worth the bad breath you may encounter!
Berries and Cherries
Eating a low glycemic diet means eliminating a lot of sweets. While your taste buds adjust, you may crave something sweet, and berries like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries are perfect—and exceptionally good for you as well! Berries and cherries are low-glycemic superfoods packed with powerful antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and little natural sugar.
Berries deep color comes from a compound called anthocyanin, which is a flavonoid antioxidant that has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and help control blood sugar.
A cup of strawberries contains over 100 mg of vitamin C, which is way better than orange juice! Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and helps build strong connective tissue. Strawberries also contain calcium, magnesium, folate and potassium and very few calories. Always buy organic strawberries, as non-organic strawberries are one of the highest sprayed crops and soak up all those pesticides and herbicides.
One cup of blueberries offers a smaller amount of vitamin C, but high amounts of minerals and some extremely beneficial phytochemicals, with very few calories. Blueberries are also extremely high in antioxidants, as are cranberries. And raspberries offer vitamin C, potassium and a variety of other antioxidants.You can choose other berries with similar power-packed nutrition, such as loganberries, currants, gooseberries, lingonberries and bilberries.
Every once in a while you need a sweet, satisfying treat, and chocolate seems to fit the bill—but just remember, it does contain some sugar, so limit your treat to one or two pieces. Dark chocolate is actually good for you, but it can’t be just any old chocolate you grab off the shelf.
One of the major reasons diets and other weight loss programs fail is because you end up feeling deprived. Life isn’t about that! It’s about changing your bad habits, and allowing yourself to indulge in small amounts, once in a while. Integrating chocolate and in small doses into your daily diet, can help your fat burning, low-glycemic diet be successful!
Chocolate is made from the beans of the cacao tree, Theobroma CacaoPlant. Cocoa contains several antioxidants which are effective in preventing weight gain and Type 2 Diabetes by curbing the appetite and improving glucose tolerance. These flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties, which means they reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries, and help fight aging by preventing–and repairing–cellular damage. A small bar of dark chocolate can contain the same amount of antioxidants as six apples, four and a half cups of tea, or two glasses of red wine.
Good dark chocolate can serve as an appetite suppressant, lower your blood pressure, improve your mood, and add antioxidants. Dark chocolate’s bitter taste helps regulate appetite and the cocoa butter may help the stomach feel full longer. And—chocolate contains an ingredient that is a mood elevator, along with magnesium, a mineral that helps control blood sugar and helps you feel calm and relaxed, while lowering your blood pressure.
Keep in mind that milk chocolate and white chocolate are full of sugar, and don’t offer the same health benefits as dark chocolate. Instead, reach for the good quality dark, organic chocolate, without all the sweet additions like caramel, toffee, etc. Generally, chocolates in the range of 70-80% cocoa have the best taste but have much lower sugar levels than milk chocolate. The darker the better. Here’s an article about the benefits of dark chocolate on your gut health.
New studies report that certain seaweeds slow down the processing of carbohydrates, which keeps blood sugar from spiking. The study, published in Food Chemistry evaluated 15 different levels and found that five brown seaweed types had the most powerful enzymes which slow the metabolism of carbohydrates. Brown seaweed extracts appear to the ability to interfere with the release of simple sugars as well, which reduces post-meal blood sugar spikes. Other research on seaweed shows seaweed’s ability to help to lower blood pressure.
In addition to the many vitamins and minerals, and powerful plant chemicals seaweed contains, seaweed is also known to help with weight loss. While many of the seaweeds studied are specific types of brown seaweed, you can help yourself to Nori wraps that you can find in a health food store or Asian market. Nori wraps make great wraps for most any kind of filling. Try them filled with tuna salad!
People have been drinking tea since ancient times and even today, it is still one of the most popular drinks in the world—besides water. Of the many health benefits of tea, diabetes prevention is one of them.
Through a complex biochemical reaction, tea, especially green tea, helps to sensitize cells so they are better able to metabolize sugar. A Japanese study published in the Diabetes and Metabolism Journal in 2013, found that people who drank 6 cups of tea a day were 33% less likely to gain weight, develop insulin resistance or Type 2 Diabetes.
It does this by slowing the action of a particular digestive enzyme called amylase. This enzyme is pivotal in the breakdown of starches (carbs), that can cause blood sugar levels to soar following a meal. This is pretty exciting stuff!
It is known that tea contains antioxidants called ‘polyphenols’, which reduce oxidative stress, and cause vasodilation which expands and relaxes blood vessels, reducing blood pressure, and lessening the chances for heart attacks and strokes.
While black tea has many health benefits, green tea is the clear winner. Green tea contains higher polyphenol levels. In fact, if you were to go to PubMed.com and do a search for green tea, you’d find over 2,000 studies performed on green tea and its components. Other benefits include weight loss, cancer prevention, antioxidant activity, cognitive enhancement, general good health and well being… and the list goes on and on.
Green tea is also a great fat burning substance. Green tea aids weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate, causing those who use it to experience a small increase in calorie burn, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In fact it has been shown to lower of body fat AND of cholesterol levels.
In short, green tea’s health benefits are a result of several mechanisms, including increased metabolism, a positive effect on blood sugar and insulin regulation, and the inhibition of certain enzymes, which are required for the processing of carbohydrates and fats.
Yay! Red wine can be okay for a low-glycemic diet! A small glass of red wine a day can actually help keep blood sugar under control, along with a healthy, low glycemic diet.
The natural phytochemicals found in red grape skins known as polyphenols can help the body regulate glucose levels, preventing potentially dangerous peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels.
A recent study on wine found that some of the antioxidants in red wine interact with human cells that are involved in the development of fat cells, energy storage and blood sugar regulation. These polyphenols are actually comparable to the same action that the diabetes drug Avandia controls. Moderate wine drinking—especially red wines has been associated with health benefits for humans. Moderate means a small glass for women, and two glasses for men.
You can also read this article about how red wine can even help your gut health.